Don’t hate the SEC West because it’s pretty.


Is the SEC West too good for its own good?  The muttering on that topic grows ever more steady.

Here’s Stewart Mandel, from his Mailbag:

Hey Stewart. I like to judge the strength of a conference or division by the quality of the weakest teams. That said, the SEC West is absolutely loaded, with Vegas currently predicting Mississippi State and Texas A&M to finish near the bottom. Do you think this could be the year where all the SEC West teams finish the regular season with three-plus losses? If this were to happen, and if the West champion wins the SEC championship, would the SEC be shut out of the playoff?

— Jeff Pretzel, Houston

Instead of the phrase “absolutely loaded,” let’s go with “unusually deep and competitive.” That’s why this year’s SEC West is fascinating. I could see as many as five teams (all but Arkansas and Mississippi State) winning the division, and I could see all but two (Alabama and Auburn) finishing seventh. Which means some coach that makes $4 million a year, regularly recruits top-15 classes and whose fans genuinely believe right now they can win the division is in fact going to finish seventh.

The operative word here is “parity.” In fact, the SEC West has become a lot like the NFL, where essentially three-fourths of the league could finish anywhere from 6-10 to 10-6, which itself can be the difference between one or two last-second plays going for or against you. Most of the SEC West teams are similarly bunched together talent-wise, and the difference between 10-2 and 7-5 will come down to who stays healthy, who doesn’t fumble at the 1-yard line in the closing seconds, etc.

I could definitely see everyone finishing with at least two losses.

This, from a piece with the header “SEC West is so deep it could ruin league’s playoff shot”.  Heh.  Stewart’s not sayin’.  He’s just sayin’, if you know what I mean.

But he’s subtle with that in comparison to ESPN’s Alex Scarborough, who’s looked in every shadow and sees scary things for the SEC everywhere.  Including in the SEC.

But the biggest threat to the SEC might not come from the Big 12, Big Ten or Pac-12, but within. The East is a mess right now, with Georgia as the only clear contender, while the West might be too strong for its own good. Alabama, Auburn and LSU are the clear front-runners in the division, but the separation between them and Ole Miss, Mississippi State and Arkansas is minimal. Should John Chavis coax some improvement out of Texas A&M’s defense, the Aggies will be right there, too. If Georgia can’t make it to Atlanta unscathed and the West beats up on itself too much and doesn’t produce at least a one-loss team, the SEC might be shut out by the playoff selection committee altogether, which will already have a hard enough time getting over the West’s failure in last year’s bowl season.

Ooh, yeah.  Last year’s bowl season is incredibly relevant to this year’s selection committee’s analysis.

Expect this shit to grow exponentially if there are a couple of early season “SEC West eats its own” results.  I guess we’ll find out soon enough how good a salesman Greg Sankey is.


Filed under SEC Football

11 responses to “Don’t hate the SEC West because it’s pretty.

  1. Rival

    All this conventional wisdom just means that the East will win a bunch of the cross-divisional contests. The pundits will move on to the next meme that doesn’t require too much effort to construct.


    • JCDAWG83

      That’s why being a sports reporter/pundit/expert is such a good gig. If you turn out to be wrong on your predictions, you just move on to the new, obvious, thing and run with it. No one ever calls those guys on how wrong they were. I stopped watching ESPN and reading a lot of sports news a few years ago when I realized this.


  2. The forgoing is why I believe this season may be Georgia’s year. Beat Bama and some how get through the Sec schedule unscathed, the Dawgs may end up playing Arkansas, Ole Miss or Missy State in Atlanta. Winning the SEC Championship should be Georgia’s goal. If the Dawgs do that everything else takes care of itself.


    • JCDAWG83

      That’s been the case for the past 5 years (the East is Georgia’s to take) and we’ve only done it twice. If we can avoid losses to two teams we should easily beat and be favored to beat (UT, UF, SC, KY) we should be in good shape to get to Atlanta.

      I think Auburn and LSU are getting way too much love. Auburn has a new, less mobile, qb and LSU really doesn’t have a qb. Arkansas has won as many SEC games in the last two seasons as we have lost, I don’t see how they are suddenly going to be world beaters. I think the West is Bama’s to lose. aTm and, the Miss. schools will be good, but they still don’t have the talent to really threaten Bama.

      I guess I don’t buy into the West hype yet. I feel like a lot of it is left over from last season in the middle of the season when four or five West teams were in the top ten. How quickly the “experts” forget the bowl results from the West teams.


    • TennesseeDawg

      Every year is Georgia’s year


  3. AusDawg85

    Good to see dawgrading applied to the whole conference now.


  4. The Sporting News really liked this meme and ran with it. The have 5 West teams ranked in the Top 16 in their preseason poll and all of them ranked higher than us. We are the highest ranked East team at 18.


  5. Macallanlover

    My assessment all along this preseason was that the West would be a train wreck this fall with a decent likelihood being a multi-team tie of 2 loss teams requiring a complicated tie-breaker to decide who gets to play UGA in the Dome. I just don’t see a clear leader in the West, but if someone goes 7-1 in that division they could be a tough hombre for the Dawgs to beat for the title.


  6. Athens Dog

    ESPN will hammer us with the West………and their dismal bowl record. Last year’s bowls mean nothing……..but try convincing Herbie of that. At least Mark May and Pawpaw are gone


  7. Bulldog Joe

    It’s the same “SEC beats up its own” story which comes out every year.

    This year’s flavor is the “SEC West beats up on its own” story.

    Since there are now four playoff spots instead of two, I don’t see the cause for concern being any more than previous years.


  8. Cojones

    Do we have to tell Bama they have “purty lips” before puttin’ it to’em?